About Forensic Services

The Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) Forensic Services Division (FSD) is a provider of support and assistance to the SPD and the community. The FSD is committed to responding to requests for service in a manner that is courteous, helpful, and timely. The FSD is also committed to providing the highest quality forensic science services available to department personnel, community members, and the criminal justice community. The FSD accomplishes this through performing highly accurate, objective, and timely forensic examinations, including scientific analysis and crime scene processing; providing expert testimony; and presenting training and instruction to its customers and the community. The FSD also provides criminal history fingerprint identification and evidentiary and property storage.

In the FSD mission to provide such service, the Scottsdale Police Department Crime Laboratory and the Crime Scene Services has obtained accreditation from ANAB following the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025 and ANAB 3125 Supplemental Requirements, as well as the FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories.

Provide quality forensic services with integrity and excellence.
Provide high quality service for our customers while maintaining and acquiring state of the art technology and exceptional employees.

Crime Scene

Crime Scene Specialists respond to and processes all crime scenes within the City of Scottsdale ranging from burglaries to homicides. The unit works with officers and detectives twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year to ensure specialized forensic services are available when needed.

Responsibilities include photography at the scene, latent print processing, developing composites, evidence collection and preservation, shoe and tire casting, inked printing of subjects, and court room testimony. The Crime Scene unit is committed to providing the Scottsdale Police Department and the citizens of Scottsdale exceptional forensic services in a professional and courteous manner. The Crime Scene Specialists is often interacting with the public outside of their scene work by providing school presentations and attending special events.

Blood Alcohol & Seized Drugs

The blood alcohol/seized drugs unit offers support to the officers of Scottsdale Police Department as well as the neighboring Salt River Pima Indian Community. The unit has three analysts and a working supervisor. These analysts share the responsibility for the approximately 75 seized drugs and 80 blood alcohol cases that are received each month.

The seized drug analysts examine evidence for the presence of controlled substances as categorized by federal and state statutes including but not limited to marijuana, methamphetamines, opioids, and cocaine. The unit uses preliminary screening, visual macroscopic and microscopic identification, gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy and FTIR in their analysis. The unit members also provide expert courtroom testimony regarding the identification of controlled substances.

The analysts also analyze blood collected in suspected DUI cases to determine the ethanol concentration. They provide expert testimony in court regarding their analysis and the signs and symptoms of ethanol impairment, specifically regarding the task of driving.

Latent Prints

Latent Print Examiners offers support service to the officers and detectives of the Scottsdale Police Department and the neighboring Salt River Pima Indian Tribal Community. The unit performs scientific examinations in the area of friction ridge analysis, including the comparison of latent finger and palm prints to known subjects' prints. The unit may do comparisons to lifts collected by the crime scene unit or on prints that are recovered from evidence in the laboratory thru different process or development techniques such as dusting with various powders, chemical enhancement, and illumination with different light sources.

Unidentified latent prints are searched in a computer database known as the Arizona Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AZAFIS), which enables the unidentified latent prints to be compared against over three million finger and palm print records from known individuals within the database. Latent prints may also be searched in the Next Generation Identification System (NGI) which includes the FBI's automated system containing over 70 million criminal and 45 million civilian fingerprint records.

Latent Print Examiners provide expert courtroom testimony regarding their findings.

Digital Forensics

This unit is composed of a Sergeant and two detectives, two forensic computer examiners, and two digital technicians that recover evidence from digital mediums. This unit continues to evolve as technology trends change and advance. The unit undergoes constant training and equipment upgrades to stay abreast of current trends in computers and other digital media. The detectives and forensic examiners strive to maintain industry standard certifications as well as specialized training and certifications in hard drive and cell phone data recovery and forensics. The unit assists with recovering evidence in various investigations including drug related cases, violent crimes, and Internet crimes against children.

Detectives and examiners provide expert courtroom testimony regarding their findings.

The digital technicians provide photographic services not only to the Department, but as well as the City. These services include professional photography, digital image processing, and printing for events such as Barrett Jackson, Arabian Horse Show, and SPD events.

Forensic Biology

The Forensic Biology unit, or DNA, is composed of four forensic scientists and a working supervisor/technical lead. This unit, in addition to the laboratory accreditation, is also accredited to the FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories. The unit performs serology examinations of evidence items obtained from crime scenes to identify biological fluids such as blood or semen. If identified, then the identified stain is analyzed for DNA. Evidentiary items, such as guns or items without visible stains, may be swabbed and analyzed immediately for DNA. Once a DNA profile is developed, it can be compared to known persons to identify a suspect or exonerate a person of interest. If there is no known person for comparison and the sample meets certain criteria, the profile may be entered into the Combined DNA Index System to see if a person of interest can be identified or linked to another unknown profile in the database from another case. The unit members also provide expert testimony regarding their analysis in court.

Fingerprint ID

The Fingerprint/AFIS Unit, better known as the ID unit, has the responsibility to provide accurate criminal history by establishing identity of arrested persons through the process of fingerprint comparison. The unit operates five days a week between the hours of 0600 and 1800. They collect, process, store, preserve, and disseminate arrest and disposition information, ensuring its completeness, accuracy, and security in a timely manner, following state statures and the Federal Privacy and Security Act.

In an average month they will process 500 arrest packets, which involve the initial creation of criminal history records for new arrestees, and the update of criminal history for arrestees who have prior arrest incidents in the State.

Property and Evidence

Property and Evidence personnel receive, itemize, barcode, store, index sage keep, retrieve, and dispose of all evidence and property seized and impounded by the Department. They maintain the highest level in the standards of accountability and security, while providing traceable chain of custody movement at every step. Each day they travel to five other Police facility locations throughout the City of Scottsdale to pick up and deliver items.

Currently the unit maintains over 200,000 items. Over 40,000 items are received each year, at a rate of approximately 3,300 items per month. These items are filed in 1,127 different storage locations, which include six refrigerators, one walk-in refrigerator, three freezers, four walk-in freezers, a weapons vault, a climate-controlled drug room, oversized safes, two vehicle bays, and a vehicle impound lot. In an average month, they will send 266 notification letters to claimants and serve 276 citizens at the customer service window. The item release rate is 1,186 items per month by way of release, destruction, and auction.

View more Property & Evidence Information

Quality Assurance

The quality assurance unit is responsible for ensuring the laboratory maintains and adheres to all accreditation standards. The Crime Laboratory and the Crime Scene Unit are both accredited under ANAB to ISO 17025:2017 and the AR 3125 supplemental requirements.

Forensic Accreditation

ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO/IEC 17020

ANAB is the leader for independent third-party accreditation of forensic agencies. We offer ISO/IEC 17020 and ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. When your organization is accredited, it can open up new opportunities for growth. Contact us with any questions.

Learn more at anab.org

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